8 thoughts on “Google Maps: A Search Story”

  1. Mike,

    Glad you posted this – I had a feeling you’d like it.

    So what’s next – does Google disable searchStories if people use it to highlight their fails, or do they actually fix the problems?

  2. Mike –

    The frustration is that these are ‘definitive’ OneBoxes, which have the highest prominence on the page. Four of the examples are claimed listings with fake addresses and local phone numbers that forward to call centers. The orders are re-routed through floral wire services back to local florists – sans about 40% of the consumer’s spend.

    One listing is a distant local florist who just spammed the heck out his ‘company name’. He’ll likely use a wire service to send gathered orders out since the delivery distance is prohibitive.

    Last week, I helped a poor fellow find our shop. He’d used his iPhone for a G Maps flowers search and twice drove to phony locations. All he wanted was a nice arrangement to take to his mom in the hospital. (I actually think the spam on mobile searches is worse than on desktops.)

    Couldn’t resist using SearchStories since we local florists live this real-life-search-story daily. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  3. Nice find; I’ve reported similar spam occurring here in Canada and have yet to see the offender/s dealt with. It’s frustrating for my clients. I hope Google sets up a ‘spam team’ or something for Local.

    Andy 🙂

  4. Good job, Cathy, and I thought the somber, sad music was a good fit for this video. I am really sorry by the message in your video: local florists closing.

  5. I think the florists in an area ought to all submit edits to the faux listings, stating that the listings are bogus.

    Google Maps provides an input feature – locals familiar with an area can assist with the policing of local results.

  6. @Miriam –

    The ending was meant to be poignant (although I’ll admit a bit over-reaching.) Every flower order re-routed through an order gatherer deprives local businesses of direct income and robs their cities and states of sales tax dollars.

    The number of independently operated local florists is now pegged at around 16,000 – half the number there were approx. 15 years ago.

    Google is by far the most trusted SE, so an authoritative OneBox is viewed as a very trustworthy – almost endorsement-like – result by many surfers.

    I agree with Mike when he says G does fix problems, but at least one of the examples I included has been reported and re-reported for almost a year. Another three are just part of a reincarnation of a spam group that was removed last summer but popped back up with a different tactic. These guys are all serial spammers across many cities and states.

    @Chris –

    Like I said, most of these examples have been reported and re-reported. Sometimes they disappear only to pop up again weeks or months later.

    Each are ‘owner-verified listings’ and have full LBC profiles including images and videos. What they do lack is citations, but the OneBox results appear to be more hinged on the keywords in the business’ (phony) names than anything else.

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